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“Hotel Noir”: Should You Have Reservations?

October 5, 2012

Hotel Transylvania isn’t Tinseltown’s only inn-set new movie, and Frankenweenie isn’t Fall’s only black-and-white film. But Hotel Noir, a star-studded private-eye period piece, is even scarier and more cartoonish than either. And that’s not a good thing.

Writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez is the luckiest man in Hollywood, and not just because his real-life girlfriend (and frequent star) is Carla Gugino. My affection for Ms. Gugino is well-documented but why she continues to make unwatchable and unreleasable movies like Judas Kiss, Elektra Luxx, and Girl Walks Into a Bar with her squeeze—whose best-known credit was cowriting Snakes on a Plane–is a bigger mystery than anything in Hotel Noir.

The film opens with a scene in which Mandy Moore (as a lonely housewife) wants to expose herself to Danny DeVito (as a shower-door installer), and it only grows more ludicrous from there. Rufus Sewell stars—and who among us hasn’t said, “Hey, let’s go see that new Rufus Sewell movie?” Everyone?—as a 1958 L.A. detective who’s holed up in the titular facility and crosses paths with various absurd strangers.

Among them are Gugino as a sexpot chanteuse, Malin Akerman (can someone please explain this woman’s appeal to me?) as a superhero-obsessed sexpot dancer and Rosario Dawson (who kisses DeVito—yeah, right) as a superhero-obsessed sexpot maid. It’s a sub-Tarantino potboiler, a pulp-fiction version of Pulp Fiction.

The cast feels like two degrees of Carla Gugino: Kevin Connolly, with whom she costarred on Entourage, is miscast as her seedy-gambler husband, and Robert Forster, who was so great as her dad on the way-too-short-lived Karen Sisco, plays Sewell’s partner yet sadly shares no scenes with Gugino. For Gugino sex-scene completists, she does engage in a little girl-girl action with Cameron Richardson (another Entourage alum!), but it’s pretty tame by, say, Sin City standards.

Hotel Noir debuts exclusively on VOD next week. Even if you’re stuck in a hotel room with nothing else to watch, it’s not worth a rental. Hotel Bore is more like it.

Will you be checking into Hotel Noir? Post a comment!

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